This year’s Maryland Iron Festival features blacksmithing, woodturning and casting demonstrations, music, ranger-led tours in Catoctin Mountain Park, children's activities, “feats of strength” games, food trucks, beer, wine and craft beverages and more to Catoctin Furnace in Thurmont.

The free festival, presented by the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 18 and 19.

Activities also include tours of historic Harriet Chapel, an artist and maker market, Scales and Tales birds of prey program and an interactive display from Hagerstown and Frederick Railway Historical Society.

The event will feature live music from The Caswells on Saturday at 1 p.m. On Sunday, family favorite Slim Harrison performs at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Sunday also includes a performance of Braided Lives, a music and poetry program by HALO Quartet and Elayne Bond Hyman at 1 p.m.

Food trucks including Uptown BBQ, Yumi Food Truck and Snowball Waterfalls will be onsite over the weekend, as will DNA Events bar, who will serve beer, wine, and craft beverages. There will also be a bake sale with homemade treats.

Festival visitors can also hike along the Catoctin Furnace African American Cemetery Interpretive Trail, which links the furnace to the historic village with a trail extension into Cunningham Falls State Park and visit Catoctin Furnace’s historic kitchen and pollinator gardens.

Catoctin Furnace was built by workers owned or employed by the four Johnson brothers in order to produce iron from the rich deposits of iron ore found in the nearby mountains. At least 271 enslaved people of African ancestry made up the bulk of Catoctin Furnace’s earliest workers. In the decade before the Civil War, European immigrants began replacing the enslaved and freed African-American workers, as it was more economical to hire cheap labor than support an enslaved workforce. Descendants of the immigrants still live in the village.

The iron furnace at Catoctin played a pivotal role during the industrial revolution in the young United States. The furnace industry supported a thriving community, and company houses were established alongside the furnace stack. Throughout the 19th century, the furnace produced iron for household and industrial products. After more than 100 years of operation, the Catoctin Furnace ceased production in 1903. In 1973, the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society was formed to foster and promote the restoration of the Catoctin Furnace Historic District and maintain the same exclusively for educational and scientific purposes.

The third annual open-air event is presented in partnership with Cunningham Falls State Park, Catoctin Mountain Park, PopUp Frederick, Harriet Chapel, Frederick County Public Libraries and Visit Frederick.

Masks will be required for all attendees and will be provided free to all. Entry to enclosed activities will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test done within 48 hours. This excludes DNR/state-owned landscapes.

The event is free, but donations are welcome. All proceeds will be used for the ongoing restoration of the historic village structures. For more information, email info@catoctinfurnace.org.

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